The Virtual Reality job market is about to explode. With the recent introduction of the Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens two of the largest companies in the world have begun to stake their claims in the newest high growth market.
Technology generally directs how we live our lives in modern times. Microwave ovens changed how we eat, cable television changed how we spend much of our free time and consume news, and smartphones have changed how we communicate and, frankly, how we do almost everything. This trend will continue to accelerate as we become more and more technologically advanced in the world, and the frontier which is set to provide the next huge evolution in civilization is undoubtedly virtual reality.
Virtual reality can be simply defined as ‘near reality’ or ‘almost reality’, an emulation of reality based in technological constructs. We think of reality as being made up of what our senses can detect, but in truth there are more than just the five senses we normally think of. For instance, we have a sense of balance. This ‘sense’ can’t be squarely placed under the heading of sight, touch, sound, smell, or taste.
This somewhat vague idea of our senses can be applied to virtual reality as well. We may not be able to smell or taste something in a virtual reality experience, but we can trick our brains into thinking that we do. This is really the ultimate goal of virtual reality, to develop technology which can immerse us in an experience that we perceive as real even though that experience wouldn’t fall under the the traditional definition of reality.
Virtual Reality Gaming
Gaming is at the forefront of the virtual reality movement. First we had board games, then two-dimensional video games, and today we have 3D games that make us feel like we’re part of the action. The next step, already in progress, is true 3D games that put us into the game. Turn your head, you see what’s around you (in the game). Reach out with your arm (your real arm) and you can pick up what’s in front of you (in the game).
The endgame of virtual reality technology is most easily visualized in the Holodeck from the Star Trek TV series. The entire space around you is transformed into a virtual environment, complete with artificial intelligence that interacts with you on the fly, just like the real world.
This is where we’re going, and the advances to get there are in progress. That makes careers involved in virtual reality a hot commodity. If you’re looking for a career with a future, then look to where the future is going. Jobs in the virtual reality field naturally pay well because of this.
Below are five of the best paying virtual reality jobs. Because the field is relatively new and growing quickly, the salary ranges can vary quite a bit based on the company, the location, and other factors. Generally speaking, however, a position with an established (or well-funded) company for any of these will start in the $75–80K range and extend up to around the $200K range. If you’ve got the chops, expect to be in or near six figures.
1. Programmer/Developer — The difference in these is really one of degree. A programmer is competent in writing code, but mostly just completes tasks. A developer has coding abilities but also the skills to work out the route to take to get from A to B in designing software.
2. Software Engineer — Software engineers are essentially developers who can see the bigger picture and have a broader skill set. They plan the journey, foresee the bumps in the road, communicate with other involved parties, and navigate the route from beginning to end.
3. Machine Learning Specialist — Machine learning is the science and art of writing algorithms that allow software to learn. Basically, it’s the building blocks of artificial intelligence.
4. Data Engineer/Data Architect — Software works by accessing and delivering tons of stored and sorted data. The data engineer gathers and sorts all of the data to create the databases for the software to access.
5. Data Scientist/Data Analyst — These are big thinkers and sharp analysts that can take the data that’s been gathered and draw insights from it. They ask the right questions, find the answers to those questions, and then communicate those answers to the organization.